Word of the Week – ‘revenons à nos moutons’

This week, I’ve got an animal-themed phrase for our mot de la semaine – ‘revenons à nos moutons’! 🐑

For more French expressions and Words of the Week, why not have a look at my other posts here

Word of the Week:

‘Revenons à nos moutons’ – this is one of my favourite French expressions, because it’s so colourful and unusual. You might also see or hear ‘revenons-en à nos moutons’, which is another way of saying it. 

I learnt this on my year abroad in France, when I was working as an English assistant in a secondary school. 

While I was there, the music department was organising a school trip to London, and asked me for tips on booking and arranging some visits. I would meet with the music teachers most weeks to talk about it, and as all of us liked to chat, this expression came up one day – and made an appearance in most of the meetings afterwards!

How to pronounce it:                

‘Ruh-vuh-nohn ah noh moo-tohn’. 

What it means in English:

While this literally means ‘let’s get back to our sheep’, it translates into English as the (less exciting) expression ‘let’s get  back to the matter at hand’ or ‘let’s get back to the point’. 

Where does it come from?

It’s all thanks to the medieval play La Farce de Monsieur Pathelin that we’ve got the expression, which apparently once even made an appearance in English as ‘let us return to our muttons’. 

Although the play was written anonymously, it’s often linked to French author François Rabelais

(Bonus fun fact: He’s perhaps most famous for writing La vie de Gargantua et de Pantagruel, stories featuring a pair of giants and an alcoholic monk that were attacked for being ‘obscene’. You heard it here first 😉)

How to use it in a sentence:

‘Bon, on en a assez parlé. Revenons à nos moutons!’ 

English translation:

‘Okay, we’ve talked enough about that. Let’s get back to the point!’

Similar words:

Revenons à notre sujet = Let’s get back to the matter at hand (literally: ‘let’s get back to our topic)

Fermons la parenthèse = Let’s get back to the point (literally: ‘let’s close the parenthesis/bracket)

Ne nous égarons pas = Let’s not digress 

Reprenons le fil de notre conversation = Let’s pick up from where we left off (in our conversation) (literally: let’s take up the thread of our conversation again). 

What about you? What are your favourite French words and expressions? 

Let me know in the comments below! 

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